Alabama vs. Missouri: Why Tide Will Not Falter in First True Road Test of 2012
Alabama is in prime position to make another run towards a national championship and defend last year’s title. The Crimson Tide enter Week 7 of the college football season as the No. 1 team in the AP Poll and have received every first-place vote.
But while Arkansas wasn't much of a threat due to injuries and the overall team blowing chunks on the football field, a trip to Missouri this week will be considered the first true road test for Nick Saban and company.
The Tigers are still out to prove themselves to the college football world, as they still have yet to earn a conference win in the SEC. And while a win here for Missouri may be unlikely, we have seen many top rated teams fall asleep, as three Top 5 teams lost last weekend.
Here is why Alabama won't be caught off guard and will take care of the newbies of the SEC fairly easily.
Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.
Too Many Offensive Weapons
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Believe it or not, Alabama is no longer that defensive team that gets the stops and plays a game of field possession. Sure, the defense is still spectacular, but this offense is more than capable of moving the football and scoring points.
The running game is racking up 188 yards a game, with freshman T.J. Yeldon becoming a versatile player that can take one the distance every time he touches the ball. Quarterback A.J. McCarron is playing out of his mind at the moment, completing nearly 66 percent of his passes, having yet to throw an interception and producing 27 plays of 15 yards or more.
The Crimson Tide has become that balanced football team on both sides of the ball, and the Tigers defense hasn't shown it can get off the field consistently. Georgia dropped 355 yards of offense, including five yards a carry in its victory over the Tigers, while South Carolina had nearly 400 yards of total offense in its matchup.
The offensive line should overpower the smaller defenders on this Missouri defense and score well over 30 points for the sixth time this season.
Smaller Offensive Line Can't Block Alabama
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When Missouri first switched to the SEC, the first thing many thought about was the offensive line. While every other offensive line in this conference is massive and hard to break through, the Tigers are small up front and have been abused so far.
Many of the linemen are lean, not as athletic and get beaten time and time again by bigger, stronger and faster defensive players. The Tigers have already allowed 14 sacks on the year, including two in the game against Georgia and three in the contest against South Carolina.
Bad news for Missouri fans is that Alabama is just now starting to generate consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, as there have been eight sacks and eight quarterback hurries in the last two games combined.
Going up against a smaller offensive line, this Alabama defense should have a field day against the Tigers.
Running Game Will Go Nowhere for Missouri
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Although Missouri is 81st in the country in scoring offense, the Tigers do have weapons that can make plays on the offensive side of the ball.
Running back Kendial Lawrence has done a great job of filling in for an injured Henry Josey, as he is averaging close to six yards a carry and has five runs of over 20 yards. Marcus Murphy is also an explosive player that contributes on offense and has already returned three punts for touchdowns.
But the Crimson Tide has seen all of this before.
Denard Robinson and the option offense was supposed to give this defense fits. Arkansas was supposed to drop a few points on this squad. Neither of those teams were able to do anything and were better off staying on the bus.
The bottom line is that the defense is ranked first in the country, has the third-best run-defense and has forced 15 turnovers, which is tied for the second most in the SEC.
Alabama has not lost a step on defense, is too fast off the edge and generates too much pressure up front. For a team that has already struggled against other SEC competition earlier in the year, a game against Alabama will show Missouri that it still has a ways to go.
QB James Franklin Is out for the Tigers
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It was bad enough that the Tigers offense was going to struggle to move the football, but the news went from bad to worse when they found out quarterback James Franklin won't play. The dual-threat quarterback left last week's game with an injury, and according to Dave Matter of The Columbia Daily Tribune, he will miss this SEC showdown.
Pinkel: Strained MCL for James Franklin, out two weeks— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) October 7, 2012
Franklin is a playmaker with the ball in his hands and can make things difficult for the defense with his ability to run the football. With the junior quarterback not playing, freshman Corbin Berkstresser will have to play the defense that is ranked first in the country.
Good luck with that.
Nick Saban Is Coming off a Bye
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If you needed one more reason why Alabama will have no trouble whatsoever in this game, here you go. Head coach Nick Saban has had an extra week to prepare his team, which means that there is no chance the Tigers will be able to keep up.
Go and ask Les Miles how great things run when Saban has extra time to figure things out. Oh, and if you are wondering if the coach took a couple of days off, he did. But don't think for a second he wasn't focusing on the game of football while he took a break from the office, according to Vahe Gregorian of stltoday.com.
I don't think that you can ever just forget about what you're doing, all right? Saban said Monday. So to say you're going to go take a mental break, I don't care where you go, where you stay, that's not going to happen.
I leave town for a day, but I take everything with me.
There are certainly bigger fish to fry when it comes to this Alabama team, but Saban is just as prepared for Missouri as he was in last year’s national championship.